Few periods in history or topics for discussion make people as uncomfortable as Apartheid in South Africa. A new story from English/South African/Swiss/Kinda Canadian author Susan Wuthrich tackles it head on.
Full disclosure, my family was almost part of post-colonial African history. My father got it in his head to homestead in a very apartheid-like Rhodesia in the mid-sixties, (a combination of itchy feet and a need to improve his luck) just before all hell broke loose. We were refused our visas at the last minute (probably by someone who saw the writing on the wall and saved us from ourselves) and we stayed in Canada. Needless to say, I was intrigued by Susan’s story.
So, what’s your deal?
I began life in Toronto, Canada. My mother had married a Canadian and left England as a war bride in 1947. When the marriage failed, we returned to the UK where my mother remarried.
Fast forward to1966. I was 18 when my then boyfriend and I decided to emigrate. We could have gone anywhere, Canada, Australia or NZ, but we were broke and decided on South Africa as it was the cheapest fare. I lived there raising a family for the next 25 years.
Many people have asked, how I could have stayed in that country during such tumultuous times. The answer is simple; although Apartheid is an ugly concept, and I’m not making excuses, it was in fact just another era and racial discrimination was rife throughout the world, (and I think still is to a certain extent), the USA included. These days I am retired and live in a quaint Swiss village with my second husband.
What’s the novel about?
Initially, Portrait of Stella is set in England and tells the story of Stella’s daughter, Jemima, who finds out everything she thought she knew about herself was a lie. She is denied a passport on the grounds her birth certificate is false and there are no records of her existence. Through clues pertaining to the past, Jemima traces her late mother’s footsteps across the globe in search of her real identity.
What is it about that time period that intrigued you?
After much research, and through my mother I gained first-hand knowledge of life in the armed services in WW2. My own experiences of life during the Apartheid regime in South Africa,
What’s your favorite (or favourite) scene in the book?
There are a few twists in the tale, but my favourite is when Jemima, who had always believed she was an only child, comes face to face with a sibling she had no idea existed. There is also a scandalous mystery surrounding her father.
Of course there was. How can we learn more about your work?
Portrait of Stella is on Amazon: amzn.to/2IPL82H
Twitter: Susan Wüthrich @Sue_Wue
Facebook: Susan Wuthrich Author